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Tales From the Velvet Rope

The not-so-secret secret about the Chicago nightlife scene is that the velvet rope is more or less a formality. However, there are some rules—as we discovered on a recent Saturday night. PLUS: Trendspotting

 

The not-so-secret secret about the Chicago nightlife scene is that the velvet rope is more or less a formality. Big lines rarely form before midnight-if at all-and if you find yourself in a scrum around the bouncer, take a breath and relax. You’ll probably get in. On the other hand, there are some rules and priorities-as we discovered on a recent Saturday night

 


 

Lawrence Crowe, 24
Found at: RiNo (343 W. Erie St.; 312-587-3433)
What happened to him: An out-of-towner-he was in Chicago for a wedding-Lawrence misjudged the late-night dress code by wearing a tie. He told the bouncer that a friend of his brother’s was the club’s liquor distributor, but to no avail. He and his posse of male friends were turned away.
  Sohena Patel, 33
(pictured left)
Found at: RiNo
What happened to her: Sohena is the kind of patron any club wants to have warming its banquettes: a young, tastefully dressed female. On this night she pushed her luck by bringing along four male friends. Normally a party like this would get split up, the bouncer said. Sohena’s party got in, intact.

 

 


Angie Woods, 25,
and Don Sillman, 28
Found at: Sound-Bar (226 W. Ontario St.; 312-787-4480)
What happened to them: Attractive couples rank second in the desirability hierarchy behind beautiful women. Angie and her boyfriend, Don, radiated high energy and a sense of fun, and got in. Besides, Angie said, “they need us in this club. We’re good dancers.”
  Benji Hall, 39
Found at: Sound-Bar
What happened to him: Benji showed up wearing a casual T-shirt and jeans. Typically, the bouncer said, the club weeds out people who don’t look like they’re in a clubbing frame of mind. Benji, of Lake View, received a minor interrogation at the door, which revealed that he had come from another bar and not a Cubs game. He got in.
 
Andrea, 25
(pictured left)
Found at: RiNo
What happened to her: Andrea, a makeup artist who declined to give her last name, told us she’s a regular at RiNo and has been a patron for more than a year. Although the bouncer who let her in said he didn’t recognize her, she got in anyway-likely because she’s young and pretty, and arrived as part of a bachelorette party.
  Ali Masud, 22
Found at: Sound-Bar
What happened to him: Ali, a trader who lives in Pilsen, was celebrating his birthday and had dressed up for a night out-a variable that bouncers say they take into consideration. Ali’s designer jeans and long-sleeved shirt made a favorable impression. He got in despite being male and with another guy. A tip: Sandals and shorts are never OK.

 

 

 

 

Arry Nomani, 22
Found at: Sound-Bar
What happened to him: Clubs like to let in people from other countries on the assumption that they’ll spread the good word internationally. And a posh British accent like Arry’s never hurts. An entrepreneur visiting from Nottingham, England, Arry happened to be carrying his passport-and it scored him half off the $20 cover.
  Rosemary Mancari, 26,
and Joseph Lizzo, 41
Found at: RiNo
What happened to them: Joe, who lives in Bridgeport, dropped the name of a friend who is a regular. These two are not actually a couple (they’re cousins) and the bouncer noted that Joe was older than the club’s usual clientele. But the pair worked their responsible-adults-just-out-for-a-drink vibe, and got in right away.

 


Trendspotting

Inspired

Smoke-free bars
. . .
Shochu
. . .
Live-band karaoke.Why should Taylor Hicks have all the fun?
. . .
The merging of fine dining and cocktail culture
. . .
Internet jukeboxes
. . .
Quality pub grub
. . .
DJ-spun music with live percussion
. . .
Upscale neighborhood taverns
. . .
Mass text-messaging. Now it’s a snap to communicate with your far-flung posse.
. . .
Tailored, tucked-in shirts on guys

 

Tired

Bottle service-spending $300 to sit at a small table doesn’t make you a big shot.
. . .
Guys in striped shirts
. . .
Doormen who wear sunglasses at night
. . .
Spray-on tans. Orange skin is not sexy.
. . .
Red Bull and vodka
. . .
Stripper poles. Unless you’re Pamela Anderson, save it for the boudoir.
. . .
Bars as brands. We loved the original Billy Goat, Bar Louie, and John Barleycorn. Their clones? Not so much.
. . .
Twenty-gazillion-square-foot megaclubs. Bigger isn’t always better.
. . .
Skinny jeans. Kate Moss can wear them; most Chicago gals should think twice.
. . .
Club owners as walking billboards. Lose the logos, guys!

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